Snapshots of Yesteryear
This article first featured in the Glasgow Tigers programme.
Glasgow's switch of home track from the Blantyre Greyhound Stadium in 1981 to Craighead Park the following year was the shortest move in speedway history. The two stadia effectively adjoined each other and a new track was constructed around the football pitch in time for the 1982 speedway season.
This snapshot, which was probably taken by track photographer Ian Wilson, shows the start of heat 12 of the National League match against Newcastle Diamonds on 2nd July 1982. The Tigers were not expected to take any points from this encounter - their programmed "full strength" side totalled 35.38 with the visitors on 57.90! Therefore a 38-58 defeat came as no surprise since it virtually reflected the ratio of strengths of the opposing sides.
Joe Owen in the white helmet leads from teammate Alan Emerson with Colin Caffrey and Steve Lawson giving chase. Owen won this heat from Lawson and Caffrey to maintain the twelve point difference between the sides.
Best for Glasgow was Steve Lawson with 14 points, Kenny McKinna 12 and a gutsy paid 8 from Colin Caffrey. Harry MacLean 4+1, Roger Lambert 1+1, Kym Mauger 1, and three pointless rides from Alan Mason complete the Glasgow scorers.
For the Diamonds, Joe Owen top-scored with 14, Bobby Beaton 12+1, Tom Owen 11, Rod Hunter 10+1, Alan Emerson 5+2, Keith Bloxome 5+1 and Robbie Foy 1+1.
Successive National League championship victories in 1982 and 1983 tempted the Newcastle management into joining Oxford and Exeter in "promotion" to the 1984 British League. It was to be a disastrous decision. Despite the Diamonds retaining the cream of the Division Two squad, they still finished bottom of the League and were forced into eventual closure.
I believe that this snapshot, courtesy of Christine Liddell, shows first bend action from Ashfield during the Scottish Best Pairs Cup on Tuesday 23rd May 1950.
The tall rider nearest the camera, probably wearing his distinctive silver leathers, is Ashfield Giant Eric Liddell. The leg-trailing Bob Lovell is taking an outside line with another Ashfield Giant Merv Harding, who usually wore red leathers, even closer to the fence. Bill Baird, the fourth Ashfield rider in the photo, is partially obscured by Liddell who won this heat 6 from his partner Harding and third placed Lovell.
The 20-heat open meeting consisted of four pairings from the Giants and two each from the Tigers and the Monarchs. The clear winners were the Giants pairing of Ken Le Breton in his white leathers and Willie 'the wasp' Wilson in his yellow and black outfit. Jack Young, in the more traditional standard black leathers, was the only rider to take points off the flying Ashfield pair when he won the final race of the evening.
Not all the pairings met each other and this resulted in two riders scoring a 15-point maximum - Jack Young of Edinburgh Monarchs and Keith Gurtner (blue leathers) of the very colourful Ashfield Giants.
The Speedway Echo magazine reported, "Wilson well earned his first trophy as his inspired riding was the feature of the meeting, and was fully appreciated by the home supporters. After a week in hospital, Merv Harding could not be restrained from taking part, and delighted his host of fans by getting 10 points."
This article was first published on 27th October 2013
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